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News - 6 February 2010

Will tourism industry suffer as consumers cut back?

The latest e-Customer Service Index (eCSI) survey conducted by IMRG and eDigitalResearch reveals that one in four people are intending to spend less on their holidays by as much as 50% this year. Also according to the survey, 48% of those surveyed are more likely to shop online to capture the best deals to save money.

Traditionally, the Christmas period has been a busy time for holiday bookings with travel companies advertising early bird discount offers. However, 87% of those surveyed didn’t book holidays during the festive season this year, testament to changing public attitudes.

David Smith, Director of Operations at IMRG explains, “This marks a shift in consumer purchasing behaviour as more people are swayed by better holiday deals online and are less likely to plan so far in advance. With retailers announcing bumper sales figures over the festive season, it is clear that people preferred to spend their money on instant gratification, as opposed to planning their sunny getaways. With another tough year ahead for travel, it is important that companies capture the growing online bookings market with better deals and a better user experience.”

Over the last year, the online travel sector has witnessed the biggest growth in bookings across the retail sector according to a recent survey conducted by eDigitalResearch, with 12% more people booking travel products online this year than last. With more people moving online, customer expectations are growing as a result of the increased convenience and control that the online space affords them.

The eCSI index highlights that such growing expectations has partly contributed to a drop of 1% in overall customer satisfaction across the entire retail sector. Many people who have gone online have been frustrated by poor phone and email support, with customer service contact dropping by 2% since October 2009.

Chris Russell, co-founder and director at eDigitalResearch comments, “One of the biggest reasons for a drop in satisfaction is the inability to deal with or resolve customer queries quickly. Call volumes are generally higher during the January sales and adverse weather conditions have further compounded this with more people questioning delivery times and dates. To reduce pressure on busy call centres, companies need to address the online self-help function so that customers can answer their questions quickly, without the need to pick up the phone.”

“With more people hunting for better deals online with less disposable income, companies need to concentrate on ensuring that the customer journey is seamless from the homepage to the purchase and delivery. While they may be investing more of their marketing budgets online, it is important to look beyond the wow factor and balance clear engaging content with good customer service support.”

Read related items on:
Tourism, entertainment and hospitality
Russel, Chris

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